I am very excited that Peter Capaldi will be the new Doctor Who. I was a bit late to The Thick of It, but after his very first expletive-ridden utterance about marzipan dildos I became an immediate Malcolm Tucker fan. I also admire Capaldi for his previous role as Professor MacLeish in the ‘University Challenge’ episode of Peep Show. But let’s not stop the speculation—let’s look towards the future. One day, when head writer Steven Moffat learns how to properly write female characters, it would be cool to have a woman Doctor. Or an Asian or black Doctor. Or–quelle horreur–both. It is a bit strange that the Doctor has (or will have) regenerated twelve times and turns into a white man every single time. What are the odds! In my Gang of Five list, the only restrictions are that potential candidates must be both British and awesome. Let us begin.
The more I think about Miranda Hart playing the Doctor the more right it seems. She’s got enough kookiness, wackiness and wit to slip seamlessly into the role, and her moments of poignancy and gravitas are always a satisfying kick to the guts. I thought it was just me, but apparently literally everyone* agrees (*quite a few British people). Hart is a staple of UK television and has won multiple awards for acting and writing, starring in her own comedy show Miranda and the BBC period drama Call the Midwife. She’s also a regular guest on comedy panel show Would I Lie To You? I like how utterly British Hart is—her slapstick and self-deprecating sense of humour (that still can’t hide her confidence), her awkwardness and big posh accent.
Best known for his role in The Wire, and films American Gangster, Prometheus and Pacific Rim, Idris Elba once played a ‘gigolo’ in Absolutely Fabulous. What a CV. And let’s be honest, Elba is a very attractive man. It was widely suspected that Elba was the black actor reported to have turned down the role of the Twelfth Doctor before it was offered to Capaldi. If this is the case, someone needs to make a Change.org petition right now because we cannot allow Elba to allow this travesty to ever happen again. One of my very sophisticated methods for selection in this list is to imagine the candidate wearing either a scarf, leather jacket or tweed, and I implore you, if you have not done so already, to imagine Idris Elba wearing tweed. Ohh yeah.
In Australia we know Sophie Okonedo as Aisha from the TV adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ novel The Slap. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Hotel Rwanda and, you’ll never guess, Wikipedia tells me that she was in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. (Thank you, Internet. The things you learn). She also played Liz Ten in two episodes of Doctor Who, and voiced the unofficial Ninth Doctor’s companion, Alison Cheney, in the webcast Scream of the Shalka. She’s got a bunch of Doctor Who cred and I’d love to see Okonedo in more powerful, kicking-butt roles, and no-one is more powerful and kick-butty than the Doctor. I would also really, really love to see her in tweed.
English royalty. A national treasure. James Bond’s M. Whether in a period drama or a Bond film, Judi Dench is an absolute boss, always authoritative, tough and charming. She has that twinkle in her playful, wry eyes that suggests she’d be a pro with a sonic screwdriver, and she lends sympathy and humanity to the coldest of characters. As one of the greats of English theatre (she’s BFFs with the National Theatre Company and the Royal Shakespeare Company), as well as winning about a million BAFTAs, Dench is among the most prominent, respected and beloved British actors. It only makes sense that she play the most beloved TV character. I reckon she would wear the hell out of a leather jacket.
Tilda Swinton. What an angel, a majestic androgynous gazelle, graceful unicorn of a thousand poems, the woman of my dreams. Swinton is fierce, a bit weird, and devastatingly chic. Imagine her in a fight! In a suit! Her role as the White Witch was the only good thing about The Chronicles of Narnia and she seriously impressed everyone in We Need to Talk About Kevin. She could probably be the long-lost sibling of David Bowie (and she appears in his music videos). There is something alien-like about Swinton’s physical features, and her penchant for experimental and art house cinema makes her an obvious candidate for the Whoniverse. I imagine her bringing exceptional menace and sensuality to the role of the Doctor, and she could wear whatever she bloody well likes.